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Of Wants And Desire
Rashidah Abdul Hamid*
Editor : NuurZaffan

I was thinking about this last night, before I went to sleep. Somehow, I'm beginning to see the folly of one of the things my parents used to teach me. They had always told me that if you want something so bad, and you couple that desire with efforts, there is no reason for you not to get it in the end. In essence, you can get everything you want. The question is just whether or not you've done everything to earn it.

Now, I respect my parents very much. Firstly, for all of their love and affection, But secondly, for bringing me up the way they did, with strict emphasis on hard work and discipline. I remember when I was a kid, my mother would make me go to school even when I was sick, so long as it was not contagious. My father would say to her, "Kalau budak tu pergi sekolah pun, apa yang dia boleh belajar, sakit macam tu?" (Even if she went to school, what can she possibly learn in that illness?) And her answer had always stuck with me ever since,

"Biarlah dia belajar susah nak dapatkan ilmu. Nak pandai kena susah sikit." (Let her at least learn that life isn't always easy. If you want to know, you have to suffer for a bit)

And that must have been one of the most influential drives I have ever had. I'm sure I whined about many things in the past, but the whole time, there was never any doubt in me that all the hardship will pay. If not soon, than maybe later. It will pay. The way my parents taught me to look at life, everything depends on your efforts. If you get it, that means you've earned it. If you didn't get it, that means you haven't worked hard enough.

I only began to realize last night, how wrong that is. My parents' perspective, even when it has often prompted many a positive result, only pays those whose achievement corresponds exactly with what they want. And I feel that to be rather misleading. Perhaps we want X, and we do everything within our means to get X, but we end up with Y instead. That doesn't mean we have failed. Neither does that mean we did not put enough efforts. Sometimes, X is not always the best thing for us and maybe Y is. When we get Y instead of X, we should not be made to feel as if we have failed just because we did not get X.

It all comes down to the debate of gift and earning. I believe we do not get good things because we earn them. We get good things because the Ultimate Owner of good things is ever Merciful. All of our hard work alone does not bring us anything in the end. It simply goes to show or prove that we are deserving and worthy of such mercy. So yes, hard work is important but that does not provide a sure guarantee for the realization of our wants and desire.

I think it is vital to get that straight because we often see around us (or we do it ourselves) how people become dejected upon not achieving what they've worked so hard for. At times like that, my parents' philosophy would seem so harsh and cruel. "You got a B for your test? Tu tak study la tu. Kalau study, mesti dapat A!" I mean, we don't know how hard some people work but still end up with mediocre exam results. When that happens, they should not be expected to feel as though they have failed, not only themselves, but all around them. Perhaps those test grades are the best things for us. Be content with has happened. Use it as a basis for a better future.

So in the end, there is really nothing to get so upset about. Or nothing to get so ecstatic about. Kipling described it aptly, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same...

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it
. I interpret the the second verse like this: everything in the world becomes yours simply because you have no wants of it. If that makes sense. I was reminded of another saying; the richest man is not he who has the most, but he who wants the least. So if you don't get what you want, worry not, and be not upset. Chances are, you've already got more than enough anyway.

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